Jimmie Durham: Universal Miniature Golf (The Promised Land)
American sculptor, Jimmie Durham, is concerned with the politics of materials and deliberately works in a craft-like way at a time when it is seen as unsophisticated, folky and crude to make things by hand. He responds to his location by collecting raw materials and uncovering histories in an attempt to make links to the grand themes in his own practice. The exhibition consists of facts and findings written by hand, sculptures crafted from found objects, petrol barrels oozing a paint-like substance, archival images, stories, comics and a photograph of the artist wrapped in a quilt armed with a golf club as ‘Self-portrait with traditional Scottish kwilt’.
Beautifully crafted wooden golf clubs feature throughout the show, partly acknowledging the loss of homes to golfing estates in Scotland, and partly referencing the bead-decorated weapons made from golf clubs by Mohawk warrior and artist Joe David. David was a leader of the Mohawk resistance against the Canadian government’s proposal for a nine-hole golf course on a Mohawk burial ground in 1990. Durham, himself involved with the American Indian Movement, has written a memorial to David by using the Amerindian aesthetic in a Western context.
Parallels are drawn to the Highland clearances, but also to the Scottish settlers who, in the 1600s, lived amongst the Cherokee, Creeks and Choctaws in the South East of the US; only to be forcibly removed in the 1830s by US officials, among them Scots, in a poetic culmination of Scots fighting Scots.
In the video ‘Smashing’, the artist smashes various objects with a stone. He then produces a certificate, stamps and signs it and awaits the next object.
His most effective sculpture is a memorial to ‘people who are dead and those who will be dead’. Taking the shape of an animal with antlers and a golf club leg, this totem object contains name tags of folk that Durham met in Glasgow during his three-month production residency.
Durham’s exhibition conveys a hyper awareness of the material world and uses the performative as a counteraction to a visual culture that is often wrongly conceived as dominated by the conceptual.
Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Sat 4 Sep